Supporters’ Trust urges club to stop treating fans as ‘a necessary inconvenience’

Image: SpursWeb

The Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust have called for the club to show a better understanding of the balance between the business side of things and football, while also defending themselves amidst criticism from the fans.

The current Tottenham hierarchy is not one that is universally popular among the Spurs fan base with some questioning the lack of investment into the first-team squad over recent years.

However, THST have hit back at those criticising the trust members for not doing enough to voice fans’ concerns.

Their monthly newsletter read: “Over the last month, there’s been a rise in criticism directed at the club’s owners and Board, although as always the volume and intensity of criticism is closely connected to results on the pitch.

“Whenever criticism of the club board grows, so do questions about the role of THST and our relationship with the people who run our Club. It’s good that people ask about our role, less good when we receive criticism based on inaccuracy – deliberate or otherwise. So we wanted to set out our role and position.

“Under the terms of our constitution, our remit lies mainly off-field. There are probably as many opinions about what’s happening on-field as there are Spurs supporters, and we’d justifiably be criticised if we began to issue demands about specific personnel or tactics. But we do have a remit to ensure the club is being run in a way that gives it the best possible chance of success.”

The supporters’ trust also claimed that they have been consistent in calling for the club to be more transparent in terms of the consequences of their past decisions and the path they are going to take moving forward.

The letter continued: “When the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino and the appointment of Jose Mourinho were announced in November, we asked the club publicly to set out its thinking for the benefit of supporters. We said: “To take the decision it has, the Board must have a clear plan for what and who comes next. It needs to tell this club’s supporters what that plan is. And the Board also needs to consider its own role in this. Is the manager solely accountable?

“How much has the Board’s line on wages and transfers contributed to player unrest and disaffection? How much did it contribute to the situation we now find ourselves in? And will it change to help support a new manager?

“When we last met formally with the Board of THFC in March, we opened up with a section called ‘ENIC at 20’ in which we asked the board a number of questions about long-term strategy as the 20th anniversary of the current owners’ tenure approached.

“We posed the questions stated above and the answers the Club chose to give are set out in our report of the meeting, linked above.

“Daniel Levy’s message in the final home programme of the season appeared to be an attempt to respond to some of the issues supporters have continued to raise, but seemed to put setbacks almost exclusively down to bad luck.

“The decision to end the message with a sales pitch was unwise, and provides yet another example of the club’s communications unnecessarily creating a negative impression.

“The club board’s reluctance to respond to any questions about ultimate owner Joe Lewis is also unhelpful.”

THST also admitted that they were doing their best to ensure fans’ concerns are heard by the board but stressed that they were not responsible if the responses from the club were not satisfactory.

They added: “The Club Board’s answers are not always ones we agree with, but we can’t make the Board provide different answers. All we can do is report back and give our opinion where appropriate,” read their newsletter.

“It’s our responsibility as a membership organisation to ensure fans get the chance for their views to be put directly to the club’s board. We will always pursue the route of conversation as far as we can. It would be irresponsible of us not to, and members would rightly hold us to account.

“It’s easy to pretend to be representative, less easy to take and be accountable for the decisions that enable representation to be a reality.

“We never claim to speak for all Spurs fans, we are accountable solely to our members, but we try to reflect a wide spectrum of fan opinion.

“Social media, in particular, has made it easier for people to create a platform they claim is representative, but recent events have shown the pitfalls in equating, for example, a Twitter account with a movement.

“That said, it would be wrong to completely dismiss sentiment expressed on social media and elsewhere. It’s clear there’s some discontent with the current direction of the club’s board.

“Some of that is down to performance on the pitch. Some of it is down to the way the club sometimes conducts itself off it.

“The club’s board needs to show it better understands the balance between the business and the football club, and it needs to do more to convince its fans it doesn’t see them as a necessary inconvenience.

“This is something that will be reflected in small, day-to-day actions as well as the big decisions, and we work hard as a Trust to try to secure that improvement. As do plenty of people within the club.

“We will continue to do our job of holding those who run the club to account.

“We know there are a variety of opinions about the current Board and owner among fans, and among our own membership. Some, for example, say more money should have been spent. Others say money has been spent but not wisely. Part of our role is to make sure the club hears and engages with what is being said by its supporters.

“What we will never do is call for change without also calling for practical alternatives. We are a Supporters’ Trust, not a protest movement or a permanent opposition, and while the current regime remains in charge, it is our responsibility to continue conversations with it – even if those conversations are ones it would prefer not to have.

“If and when alternative ownership is a serious possibility, we will take a view on it. Until that time, we will continue to press for better from those whose responsibility it is to bring success to our club.”

Spurs Web Opinion

Some of the hate that has been directed towards THST on social media over recent years has been quite unfair. The supporters’ trust has done a great job voicing fans’ concerns to the board and I thought they came out of the club’s furlough fiasco a few months ago, with a lot of credit.

However, it is impossible to please every fan and social media can often be a toxic environment. The frustration that some fans feel towards our ownership’s perceived apathy seems to be the main cause but surely the supporters’ trust cannot be expected to back an ‘ENIC out’ campaign when we have no idea what the alternatives are.

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